BELGRADE — Summer residents expressed concern about milfoil Wednesday, urging the Board of Selectmen to tackle the issue head-on, even if it means spending more money to prevent it from spreading.

Following a presentation by Lynn Matson of the Belgrade Lake Association, a number of audience members said the town should consider spending more than the $5,000 it donated this year to help fight the spread of the aquatic invasive plant.

“It ought to be very high on your priority list,” said Steve Smith, who said he owns two properties on Great Pond. “If property values on the lake go down, the only choice is to cut services or raise taxes on everybody else who’s not a shorefront resident.”

Matson said milfoil has been found in Great Meadow Stream and the North Bay of Great Pond. His group is on track to spend $250,000 this year to fight milfoil and educate the public about ways to prevent it. While it has raised about $160,000, it needs more money.

Smith likened milfoil to an earthquake that has opened up holes in town roads.

“You’ve got a potential catastrophe here that has only become apparent the last 18 months,” he said. “I would hope selectpersons would treat this as the huge threat that it is.”

A woman urged town officials to require all rental property owners to put up posters and talk to visitors about the threat of milfoil.

About 20 town officials and volunteers talked about town projects to more than 30 summer residents who gathered in the Belgrade Community Center for All Seasons. The meeting was to address concerns of summer residents who pay property taxes in town but don’t live there year-round.

Deputy Fire Chief William Pulsifer said two new firetrucks that cost close to $500,000 should mean the department is well-positioned for years to come.

“It doesn’t take long once a fire starts for it to consume your house,” he said.

Nancy Mairs of the historical society said it is working to upgrade the 1815 town meeting house on Cemetery Road, which has recently been used as a storage shed.

Only one person mentioned the tax rate, which was recently reconfigured following a revaluation.

Last year, property taxes applied to 82 percent of the value of the property, but this year, taxes will apply to 100 percent of the value.

The man, who wouldn’t give his name, said he hopes selectmen consider giving a tax break to summer residents in the future.

And, he would like to see a third category of state fishing licenses that recognize summer property owners by giving them even a small break in cost.

As it is now, nonresidents — whether they own property or not — pay substantially more for fishing licenses than residents.

“Shouldn’t there be just some consideration of those of us who are taxpayers?” he said.

Susan Cover – 621-5643

[email protected]

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